Autocratic Leadership – Leadership Styles

Autocratic Leadership – Leadership Styles!

Leadership Styles – is there a time and place for the Commander?

Casualty (series 4)

When I was a young nurse, autocratic leadership was still common.

It was the very early seventies. In those days, in Nursing, you learned to take orders and, as you gained experience and position, you learned to give them.

No, you didn’t shout like a drill sergeant!

You learned to use a certain tone in the voice that didn’t invite questions or equivocation!  All who joined the organisation and expected to thrive learned to comply – they gave their consent.  Some left pretty quickly!

Even then, times were beginning to change and by the time I left nursing, there were very few real autocrats still around.

Today, it is hard for me to remember what it was like to be part of such an organisation.

But there were occasions when an autocratic approach and the ability to command were invaluable; for example in a real medical emergency.

We were well trained and in most  emergencies everyone knew what was expected of them and slotted into their place.  The leader gave the orders and, in those circumstances, we obeyed. I saw several lives saved as a result of our ability to act as one body and give our consent to be led without question.

But it put a huge responsibility on the leader!

Leadership is awe-inspiring

When I found myself leading the team, I found it awe inspiring to have someone’s life in my hands.

I had authority, but I had responsibility as well and I was accountable for the decisions I made.

I was grateful for my training and I was very grateful for my team and the relationships we had built up outside of the emergency situation.

Yes I am sure there is still a place on some occasions for the Commander and an authoritative style of leadership!  But without the consent of a good team built on participation and engagement, with real relationships and care for each member, I’m sure no one achieves great things.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leadership Styles – is there a time and place for the Commander?

Casualty (series 4)
 When I was a young nurse, autocratic leadership was still common. 

It was the very early seventies. In those days, in Nursing, you learned to take orders and, as you gained experience and position, you learned to give them.

No, you didn’t shout like a drill sergeant!

You learned to use a certain tone in the voice that didn’t invite questions or equivocation!  All who joined the organisation and expected to thrive learned to comply – they gave their consent.  Some left pretty quickly!

Even then, times were beginning to change and by the time I left nursing, there were very few real autocrats still around.

Today, it is hard for me to remember what it was like to be part of such an organisation.

But there were occasions when an autocratic approach and the ability to command were invaluable; for example in a real medical emergency.

We were well trained and in most  emergencies everyone knew what was expected of them and slotted into their place.  The leader gave the orders and, in those circumstances, we obeyed. I saw several lives saved as a result of our ability to act as one body and give our consent to be led without question.

But it put a huge responsibility on the leader!

When I found myself leading the team, I found it awe inspiring to have someone’s life in my hands.

I had authority, but I had responsibility as well and I was accountable for the decisions I made.

I was grateful for my training and I was very grateful for my team and the relationships we had built up outside of the emergency situation.

Yes I am sure there is still a place on some occasions for the Commander and an authoritative style of leadership!  But without the consent of a good team built on participation and engagement, with real relationships and care for each member,  I’m sure no one achieves great things.

Related Articles
  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • So you think you are a great leader? Well here is a challenge!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Being the boss in the 21st Century (signinblack.wordpress.com)

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Do you wear a mask at work? Can you be yourself at work or even at home?

I’ve always had a dilemma!  I have spent much of my life trying to reconcile the needs of my interesting and satisfying professional life as a manager and consultant, with my spiritual and creative life as a seeker and a poet! For many years, I would rarely let my work colleagues know anything about my other interests!  Even now I exercise a degree of caution in who I tell and how! But life running my own business does mean that I have greater freedom to make my own choices! I was lucky, as I say above I enjoyed my life as a manager and I now enjoy the work I do as a consultant.  I could express myself in both my worlds!

But there are many who are far less lucky than me! Some of us cannot be ourselves at home, let alone at work!  And there is a penalty to pay from the time we spend adapting to meet the needs of others; time we spend pretending to be someone we are not! We can damage our health far more than we probably realise!

Dr Katherine Benziger is a pioneer and leading expert in her field. She has given three decades of teaching and research in psychology working to help people understand, value and use their own and other people’s natural gifts! Her work has focused on the proper and ethical development and application of personality assessment in the global business environment. Significantly, Dr Benziger prefers the term personality assessing, rather than personality testing, to describe her approach. She is keen to distance herself from the ‘personality testing’ industry, which puts the needs of the organisation ahead of the individuals who make it up!

Dr Benziger believes, in simple terms, that there are four different areas of one part of the human brain (the processing section or neocortex) that equate to four different types of human behaviour.

SENSING/BASAL LEFT The fundamental goal of the Basal Left/Sensation Type is to have the fullest possible experience of what is immediate and real, in order to be able to produce dependably. For this reason, the Basal Left is said to contribute or be responsible for the productive foundations in life.

FEELING/BASAL RIGHT The fundamental goal of the Basal Right/Feeling Type is to create harmony, connectedness and good will in the community. For this reason, the Basal Right is said to contribute or be responsible for the peaceful foundations in life.

INTUITION/FRONTAL RIGHT The fundamental goal of the Frontal Right/Intuitive Type is to discover the furthest reaches of the possible, in order to perceive new patterns, invent new solutions, or solve “theoretically insurmountable” problems. For this reason, the Frontal Right is said to contribute or be responsible for the adaptive in life.

THINKING/FRONTAL LEFT The fundamental goal of the Frontal Left/Thinking Type is to create rational order and make sound plans and decisions based on logical analysis. For this reason, the Frontal Left is said to contribute or be responsible for the Directing or Prioritizing function in life.

She believes that each of us is born with a hard-wired connectivity in one of the four areas which usually leads to how we interpret the world around us and how we react to it.  It results in personality styles, thinking styles, behaviour styles or communication styles.

Dr Benziger’s work has focussed on the common tendency of people in work, whether being assessed or not, to adapt their natural thinking and working styles to fit expectations of others.   This can apply both at home and at work! It can be a particular issue for women as many of us strive to be good partners, as well as successful mothers and supportive carers for our elder relatives! The result is tension and stress.  People become increasingly unhappy and ineffective, if they behave in unnatural ways! Much of Dr Benziger’s work focuses on dealing with these issues and the costs of this pressure to adapt.

Dr Arlene Taylor has been a leading specialist in ‘wellness’ since 1980, and has collaborated with Dr Benziger for much of that time.  Arlene Taylor’s work has confirmed, and builds on, Benziger’s observations about the cost of adapting!  Her work has included identifying anecdotally a collection of symptoms. The complete family of symptoms which Dr Arlene Taylor identified within PASS (Prolonged Adaption Stress Syndrome), as linked to Benziger’s work the “Falsification of Type”, are:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Hyper-vigilance
  3. Immune system alterations
  4. Memory impairment
  5. Altered brain chemistry
  6. Diminished frontal lobe functions
  7. Discouragement and or depression
  8. Self-esteem problems

So what does this mean for us as leaders and managers of groups of people at work? Remember that any personality assessment or psychometrics test can be skewed!  This is particularly likely if someone is practised at falsifying their type and spends their time continually trying to be someone they are not. Don’t rely solely on the results of such tests when you are recruiting. Get to know the people who work with you, and for you.  Make sure they know that you value difference in your team!  Don’t put pressure on them to confirm to a stereotype – value the differences between them!

We need to recognise that we are cannot all be good at everything and it is legitimate for us to do less well at some things and better at others! It is also OK for us not all to like or want the same things!   Don’t increase the pressure with unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. Be aware of the people around you and learn to recognise when they are showing the signs of stress!  It could be that they are trying too hard to live up to your expectations and that is causing the problem!  Make sure your expectations of yourself and others are legitimate and that they are reasonable!

You can find our more about Dr Benziger and her work at this link.

Out-sourcing – how to be good at it!

In the present climate the pressure to seek value for money through out-sourcing is stronger than ever.

Yes, you can save money but getting the full value from your outsourced service and making sure that it supports your business in the way you intended is complicated.

The financial benefits alone are often not properly understood.  The results of research by Warwick Business School working with IT group Cognizant showed that less than half (43 per cent) of all CIOs and CFOs have attempted to calculate the financial impact of outsourcing to their bottom line let alone determined the real value to their organisations. They don’t know the real value and it is doubtful that they are getting the outcomes they expected!

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you achieve real value from your out-sourcing activity.

1. Know why you are doing it

Don’t out-source just because the competition does it!

What do you expect from the service and what resource will be available to support it?

Can you specify what you need and will you be able to measure and monitor it when it is delivered?

Have you got experience of managing outsourced services or can you afford to buy that expertise?

How essential is this service to your business operations?

Can you afford to take the risk?

2. Be systematic but keep it simple

Work out a strategy for out-sourcing that your organisation can cope with!

If you are new to out-sourcing don’t go for a complicated strategy that involves many suppliers.

If you go for a complex supply chain, you will need to know how to manage it

If you go for multiple suppliers, you will need to know how to coordinate them

Start with a single and relatively simple business function and a single supplier and build from there.

Gain experience as you develop the approach

3. Know how you are going to measure and monitor

Many companies rely on service level agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are crucial to outsourcing arrangements but you will need more than a traditional SLA if you are interested in business improvement!

Measuring against an SLA will tell you about delivering the status quo

Most SLAs will not tell you if the service is really delivering benefits and the right outcomes to your operation!

You need to focus on business improvement rather than just service improvement processes!

Determine what evidence of success and the right outcomes really looks like and use it!

Use industry benchmarks IF they are useful to your business

4. Invest in the relationship for long-term value

Demands and expectations change over time!

This can lead to disagreements with your supplier which can erode the relationship

Agree at the start how you will recognize and respond to changes together

Share information honestly between you

6. Be an intelligent client

Don’t hand all your talent across to the supplier with the service

Keep enough expertise available so you can talk intelligently to your supplier about performance

Keep enough expertise to cope with changing your contractor if necessary in response to supplier failure or market changes

Keep enough expertise available to cope with business innovation.

Be honest with your supplier about your expectations and your customer base

But be prepared to learn from your supplier

You can find this as a slide presentation on LinkedIn at the following link  http://slidesha.re/hc0HyK

Achieving that high performance – excellence and why I don’t play the piano!

Aristotle, the philosopher, had it exactly right 2000 years ago: “We are what we repeatedly do.”  Experience shows that by relying on highly specific practices, we can dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, to deeply relaxing.

Anders Ericsson is one of the world’s leading researchers into high performance. For more than two decades, Ericsson has been making the case that it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work — something he calls “deliberate practice That notion can be wonderfully empowering. It shows we can be in control of at least part of our own fate.   But it is also daunting. One of Ericsson’s central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient  in success, but also the most difficult and probably the least enjoyable. Excellence requires dedication and focus.  But it worries me on other fronts!  Do I want to be excellent at one thing or good enough at a range of tasks that help me lead a rounded and satisfying life?  I suppose I want to be more than good at something so that I can make a real contribution to the world! Call that egotistical but there it is!  But I want to be pretty good at a range of things and I want to be broad enough to take to take the helicopter view over the world that makes for a good leader!

Anyway if you want to be pretty good at something and still keep your wider perspective here are some pointers!

  1. Lead with what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance. Choose as your key skill something you really enjoy and love doing
  2. Do the hardest part first. Learning anything is part grind and grunt! We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice first, before they do anything else. Dedicate the time in the day when you have most energy to the part you like least.  Do it well and get it out of the way!
  3. Practice, practice,practice without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. But don’t spend all day! The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day. And you need the rest of the time for wider pursuits and other interests
  4. Seek feedback, but not too much. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too often, overwhelms and erodes confidence.  Find people you trust, who like you, to give honest feedback in the right doses!
  5. Take regular breaks. Just like in the gym, relaxing after intense effort provides an opportunity to rejuvenate. But it also allows you to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, so you could so something creative during your break and find a whole new world of interests.
  6. Build you practice into a ritual . Researcher Roy Baumeister has found, that very few of us of us have huge amounts of will and resolutiont. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.
  7. Review, review, review Be prepared to take a step back sometimes and review your progress.  How does the skill you are acquiring fit in with your rounded life?  How is it going to contribute your future success and happiness?  Be prepared to change your plans in the light of your learning.

As for that piano, my aunt was a pianist at concert performance level!  When I was a small child she attempted to teach me to play.  She became incredibly frustrated because I would find every excuse not to practice.  I never did learn to play!  But her lesson that the hard work gets done first has stayed with me throughout life!  I regret not being able to play but I value my creative childhood!  I spent my time exploring and that is a valuable skill that has stayed with me throughout life!

Outwitting the lovely Ondine, or making the right choices in hard times!

I watched a piece on breakfast television about a small child with something that sounded sinister, Ondine’s Curse.  This is a respiratory disorder that is fatal if untreated as sufferers stop breathing during sleep. It is very rare and the name is a reference to the myth of Ondine, a water nymph who had an unfaithful mortal lover. He swore to her that his every waking breath would be a testimony of his love. He was unfaithful so she cursed him; if he should fall asleep, he would forget to breathe. Eventually, he fell asleep and his breathing stopped. Anyway the story this morning was really about the child being able to be at home for Christmas because someone had invented a ventilator that was small enough for a child’s room!

Ventilators are usually large, cumbersome and difficult to accommodate! So this invention, not only adds to the happiness of a small child and her family, it also reduces the cost of her care to the NHS. No longer will she need expensive hospital resources, even with back up at home from community nursing staff, there will be a saving!

What struck me most was the need to take a long view when reducing costs. Inventing new equipment to reduce costs (and hopefully improve quality) long-term takes time and investment. Also, it requires creativity and teamwork! None of these qualities thrive in hard and uncaring environments. To achieve a climate that can deliver long-term ‘efficiency’ improvements while maintaining (or even improving) quality takes great leadership.

Exam question for December 2010 – do you think your leadership abilities would be up to the challenge? How are you going to maintain/improve them next year?

I would like to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a very creative New Year in this time of challenge! I hope you will come back because there will be lots more here next year to help you manage the changes you face!

Alice down the rabbit hole – or customer service and schizophrenia in the downturn!

I’m reading ‘Surviving Change – A Manager’s Guide’ from Harvard Business Press. It advises on managing in the downturn and opens with a discussion of different survival strategies – hard and soft!  In fact, most change is a mixture of the two and the strategy chosen usually reflects the underlying culture of the organisation!   How the mix works is critical because if it is not well managed it can become fraught with conflict and demoralising for people in the organisation; it can lead to a schizophrenic approach to customers.

The ‘hard’ approach to change is usually short-term and about economics  – cut costs and increase cash flow! If a unit, or an employee, cannot demonstrate how they add financial value, out they go with very little ceremony or concern for personal well-being. The change is usually hard driven from the top with little wider engagement.  Often consultants advise the magic inner circle and HR consultants deal with casualties that might cost the organisation.

Soft change focuses on developing the organisation to meet new conditions with high engagement across the piece from the leaders. Employees trust in the informal contract they have with the organisation and work towards its well being.

Sadly experience shows that neither soft or hard approaches work in isolation.  The hard approach works in the short term but with that alone you are usually left with a demoralised and disloyal workforce – your best employees probably left at a rate of knots when you started the change.  The soft approach can take years to embed and the market doesn’t stand still!

Most successful change is a combination of hard (rationalisation well managed) and soft (employee engagement and encouragement to learn new skills).  But if change is a reflection of underlying culture and that has conflicts within it, a change can put the whole organisation out of kilter.  What I’m thinking of here is an organisation that pays lip service to soft but is really hard.  I believe in the downturn this is likely to be an increasing problem, particularly in the service sector.

Clients of service companies, particularly in the UK public sector, like to hear how well the company manages its employees.  A tender panel may take great interest in training and development approaches but, of course, the final decision is usually made on the keenest price.  In the present climate the client is likely to continue to seek cost reductions, which mean lots of change to be managed.  This can lead a company into a kind of schizophrenia.  It flags up all the good things its HR team would like to do but finds itself increasingly having to make hard, and very short-term, decisions.  As a consequence, its own employees and its middle managers in particular, become confused and a little cynical!  In turn this impacts on the service delivered to the client – so the client pushes harder!

What is the answer.? Well maybe it starts with a little more honesty on both sides!   Perhaps clients should start being more realistic about how they expect their service companies to manage for the price they are prepared to pay.  Perhaps the companies should be a little more honest with clients, and  with themselves, about the real costs of delivering ‘cuts’  At the end of the day, a client gets what they pay for and it they want to see services well managed with employees committed to the services they deliver, they need to recognise there will always be a cost even in the downturn!

3 Steps to Turning Around Your Performance – Management Tip of the Day – December 1, 2010 – Harvard Business Review

No one likes to be an underperformer. Yet, failing to meet expectations doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world. Follow these three steps to turn your poor performance around:

  1. Accept it and ask for help. Don’t be defensive. If the data shows you are underperforming, accept it and ask for help to get better. Ask others to share insights about how you can improve.
  2. Understand the underlying cause. Do you not have the right skills? Are you uninterested in the work? Whatever it is, get to the bottom of what’s causing you to come up short.
  3. Commit to change. Identify what it is you need to do differently and ask those around you to keep you accountable.

Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Help! I’m an Underperformer.” by Amy Gallo.

3 Steps to Turning Around Your Performance – Management Tip of the Day – December 1, 2010 – Harvard Business Review.


WHAT IS BUSINESS COACHING?

Business coaching is a powerful approach for those wanting to develop their own careers, or those of their staff, and people facing career transition.

  • Improve leadership and management skills
  • Think through options and develop successful action plans
  • Communicate with people at all levels with authority and confidence
  • Motivate teams and turn them into high performing and highly motivated units
  • Increase commitment to organizational goals

HOW WILL I BENEFIT FROM COACHING? Coaching enhances your ability to learn, create, make desired changes, and achieve goals. In a coaching relationship, your coach works with you to:

  • Get clear about what you want to accomplish
  • Solve problems and eliminate obstacles
  • Set specific goals and make effective action plans
  • Learn new skills and techniques
  • Gain perspective, get feedback, and discover new ideas
  • Stay true to your vision, focused on your goals, and on track with your plans

WHO BECOMES A COACHING CLIENT? Business coaching is appropriate for any manager or professional who wishes to reach their full potential or manage an enforced change to best advantage.

Wendy Mason has depth of experience as a manager, consultant, coach and mentor.

She specializes in supporting people and organizations, particularly those going through change and transformation.  She provides a discrete business coaching service for those wanting to develop their own careers, or those of their staff and people facing career transition. She is used to working with people from diverse backgrounds and her experience includes public, private and voluntary sectors. You can find her full resume on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/wendymasonwisewolf

WHEN DO I NEED A BUSINESS COACH? You should consider working with a coach when you are:

  • Wanting to improve the way you carry out your present role
  • Newly promoted
  • Moving from a professional/technical role to general manager
  • Taking on major new project
  • Getting ready for the next promotion
  • Contemplating a career change
  • Wanting to do career stock take before planning for the future
  • Starting a new business
  • Choosing to make significant changes in how your business or organization works
  • Having trouble managing people, projects, or time
  • Facing significant changes in how your business or organization works
  • Facing an enforced personal change like redundancy

IS COACHING DIFFERENT FROM CONSULTING? Yes… and no. Traditional consulting focuses on offering external solutions and prescriptive advice. Coaching facilitates the discovery of answers that are uniquely your own. Your coach provides guidance, expertise, recommendations, and skill-building techniques whenever they are useful, but doesn’t do things for you, nor tell you exactly what to do. Coaching is typically more allied to training or mentoring than it is to consulting, because the emphasis is on your own learning and experience rather than on specific answers provided by an outside expert. Your coach will supply you with ideas, resources, models, and systems that are proven to work, but won’t hand you a completed action plan nor assert that there’s only one right way to accomplish your goals.

HOW DO I GET STARTED? One-on-one coaching can happen in one to one meetings or over the phone. You may offer ongoing coaching or single sessions. You may also choose coaching for your management, project team or work group.
Ongoing coaching relationships begin with an initial session to create an overall strategy. Regular coaching sessions are the held weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
Single or “a la carte” coaching sessions are available at an hourly rate. Your first session has a one-hour minimum; subsequent sessions may be shorter if desired.
On-site team coaching is available in half-day or full-day sessions. You may also wish to consider follow-up group sessions via teleconference.

COACHING WORKS. Find out more about what coaching can do for you! To arrange a free confidential, exploratory discussion please email  wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com or, if you prefer, call ++44(0)7867681439 and speak to Wendy.